Friday, June 6, 2008

Hobbledehoy - behind the wool

Fiber Friday is here and today I'd like to share what I hope will become a regular feature: an interview with a full-time fiberist!
I've gushed over her beautiful batts, and now I'm happy to share some insight into the world of Hobbledehoy. Liz (aka hobbledehoy) is a successful full-time spinner with a thriving Etsy shop. She candidly shares the realities of life as a spinster on her blog. I find her blog and business inspring but I was curious about her beginnings, so I asked some questions and she generously answered:

How'd you get started spinning?
I've been a long-time fan of the forums, and discovered novelty spinning on one of the boards there. I'm a bit obsessive with new hobbies, and will gobble up all the information I can find about a specific craft before trying it out. I ordered a spindle and dyed wool yarns with KoolAid while I waited for it to arrive. A week later, I ordered a wheel. It all happened so fast- most of those first few weeks are a blur. None of it would have been possible or affordable if it weren't for mill end wool providers and a lucky Etsy search (where I discovered a used Babe wheel for sale).

Which came first: the spinning or the bunny?

I spent a full year spinning before I brought little Huxley home. I had no idea what to expect- processing fiber from my own animal. Fortunately, Huxley is a sweetie and doesn't mind sitting still for hours while I snip away his fluff (I'm too scared to pluck! Plus, it makes him antsy).

How did your business begin?

Actually, I was selling one inch buttons and simple earrings on Etsy- two or three months before I began spinning and selling yarn. The business-y aspects of selling yarn began when I realized that in order to afford fiber to spin, I had to sell what was spun. I'm not much of a knitter, and would literally spend days cranking out new yarns- that's a lot of fiber!

Did you set out from the beginning of it to have a "business" and be "self-employed"?

No. I just wanted to rake in enough cash to pay for textbooks and student fees. When I sat down to chart my profit, I realized that I could probably spin yarn for a living- especially since the cost of living in this area is relatively low. I live frugally, but am able to make ends meet by taking overhead production costs into consideration.

What led to your self-employment? How did you make the decision to being "full-time"?

I was working approximately 20 hours a week in college, taking 18 credit semesters. When I added spinning to my already compressed schedule, I decided that something needed snipped. I made the decision to quit my part time job when I noticed a trend with my sales- 80% were to returning customers. I decided that if I could sustain a base of loyal customers and continually lure in new shoppers through branding and marketing efforts, I just might be able to squeak by with my hobby. Now, I'm preparing to start clocking in full 40 hour work weeks with my business, possibly branching onto a website this Fall. I've been keeping my head above water, just slightly, until now, but am looking forward to building a more structured and less spontaneous business.

Thanks Liz, for sharing your business beginnings! And to further make your Fiber Friday, Liz posted a little tutorial for corespinnig (instructions here):


Alpaca Granny said...

Enjoyed this video.

Anonymous said...

As one of Liz's constantly returning customers, I can say she is one of the best sellers on Etsy. Always helpful and her fibers and yarns are super!
Great interview!

liz aka hobbledehoy said...

aw, thanks for the interview! It was a blast :)

it's been a riot-of-a-ride, these past two years!